What Makes a Great Wireframe?

I’d be lying if I said the process for creating a great set of wireframes was easy. In my time both on the client side and on the technical services side of things I have simply come across too many wireframes that do not cut the mustard. Sure they may have contained pretty layouts and some may have even verged on full blown designs, but that’s only part of the job a wireframe is meant to do.

Wireframes are key communication tools early in the development process and are made up of the following:

  • Detailed content definitions
  • Visual representations of all features and functions
  • Priorities and hierarchies of visual information
  • Display rules and scenarios of all interface elements
  • Detailed annotations describing all aspects of functionality

Once complete, a full set of wireframes act as a comprehensive specification that captures the culmination of both content and functionality. A client should be able to look at the visuals and comprehend the detail in the annotations. A designer should be able to apply an appropriate design. A developer should be able to define their technical architecture in order to build out the solution.

At the end of the day, quality wireframes act as the universal specification for a project and are a key element of ensuring alignment between developers, designers, and the key stakeholders. You don’t just luck into a great end user experience without devising and executing against a well thought out plan.

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